LAS VEGAS — As General Motors and Ford commissioned ideas from app makers this week, the possibilities for what you can do with your vehicle’s steering wheel buttons, microphone, speakers and internal gauges are quickly expanding.
At the International CES show, General Motors and Ford launched programs that will open their designs to developers, inviting them to create software applications for future car models.
Ford Motor Co.’s app developer program, called Sync AppLink, “is a way for (the company) not to worry about the next big app,” said product manager Julius Marchwicki.
General Motors Co. said its framework “gives developers a whole new sandbox, with wheels.”
General Motors showed off its new relationship with Apple’s Siri voice assistant, which is newly integrated in some of its cars including the Chevy Spark. Siri, however, linked up only to the car’s speaker and microphone and didn’t offer access to the car’s inner systems.
Hyundai’s Blue Link technology syncs with iPhones and Android devices already and allows users to check their car’s maintenance data on their mobile devices. The service debuted in 2011 on its Sonata and is expanding to a wider range of vehicles. Voice-activated control of third-party music apps isn’t integrated yet, but the company is exploring using Google’s Android software to do so. Toyota’s use of voice is the most advanced of the auto providers, even though it had nothing new to show at this year’s CES.
On Chrysler’s Ram 1500 truck introduced at the gadget show this year, iHeart Radio was added as an application. The truck also includes the option of using a 3G cellular phone chip inside the vehicle itself to become a Wi-Fi hotspot. That could be an attractive feature for people who might want to use the truck for a tailgate party.